It's been a while! Someone informed me today that apparently there's less than a week until the Exhibition?? Not sure how that happened...regardless, don't let the infrequency of updates fool you--this session has been no less packed-full and impactful than last, which is perhaps the explanation of 'no-updates' in itself. Putting together what has essentially been more than a dozen quests within this Quest has taken it out of us! Thankfully, and literally, Aim has the best guides in the Acton network in Ms. Serena and Ms. Britney. Special shout-out to them for sacrificing an inspiring amount of their time, talents, and passion to this school. Rarely does a day pass that I am not grateful as a dad that they are guiding my children. Thanks you two!
So...I wanted to share a brief summary catching you up to this week, and then dive a bit deeper into the last few days which have really been the culmination of both sessions. The eagles have learned things this week that have been a long time in the making, and subsequently has led to higher emotions than just about at any other point this whole year. Naturally, I've been all but giddy.
We came back from the break and immediately dove into WWI where the eagles went through a complex simulation where they were forced to make daily decisions in the shoes of political and military leaders from the time period. The next week saw them experience the Roaring Twenties where their colonies really began to turn into full fledged civilizations. The game added many new factories, technologies, and resources. This was followed by the Great Depression where daily challenges led to several eagles being unemployed, highlighting a major distinction I thought worth mentioning between our school and every other school I've ever worked at--the eagles loathed being unable to work.
The Great Depression was followed by a different type of simulation for WWII where the eagles were pitted against the Axis powers (the guides) in a struggle against evil. The MS/LP faced a number of dilemma questions surrounding the Holocaust as well. The eagles failed to force the Axis powers to surrender in the alloted time, which brought upon the eagles some consequences. They experienced a bit of revisionist history in daily required German lessons for all, and a loss of EBs paid as reparations. These newly imposed rules didn't last long though as the eagles kept fighting and actually won the simulation the next day. This propelled them into an ES vs MS/LP space race, media competition, and back into the stock market game.
Which brings us to now...
After mainly observing peace since we launched this quest, we were beginning to wonder whether war would ever really break out between studios. Even after an MS eagle nonchalantly flew a plane to the ES territory and dropped a bomb on their port this Wednesday it seemed as if the act of aggression was just to be tolerated. After all, the attack was just preemptive self-defense in light of the nuclear weapons capabilities that were introduced to the game during WWII which the ES possessed...
This argument worked to appease any would-be retaliators for a while...but there were just too dang many thought-provoking questions in the launches and landings that followed.
To whom do you owe the highest duty of loyalty?
Your closest friends
When are preemptive attacks justified? Would you preemptively attack a nuclear facility in North Korea if you were 100% confident that they were going to launch an attack on the US? What if you were 80% certain? 60%? What if 10,000 innocent Koreans would die in the attack? What if 100,000?
When is it OK to break a truce?
When enough time passes
When you are provoked
When the circumstances change
Whenever it's in your best interest
What is the difference between justice and revenge?
Assume you prefer peace over war. Is it worth going to war over the death of one citizen? One port? One bomb? Two bombs? One nuclear bomb?
All chaos broke loose...
The ES bombed multiple areas in the MS/LP's territories including their port, hospital, and manufacturing plant where they made planes. A tank made its way to Room 1 and began attacking. Airplanes were shot down. Arguments were heated and despair crept into the studio. Later, grenades were thrown at enemy livestock. Work units were secretly applied across enemy lines to unmake a Laboratory. Claims of justification were shouted and met with cries of 'revenge'! Some old alliances were broken, defections ensued, tears shed...and throughout it all I couldn't stop smiling.
Have you ever played Monopoly? Remember how it feels when you have to give up money for rent to an opponent? Fake money that means nothing...yet still feels like your property. In the short duration of the game, players usually feel protective ownership over the colored bills from the first roll of the dice. So imagine how the eagles felt seeing their factories and armies destroyed that they have worked just two days shy of three months to build up. There were really no 'Chance' cards or Freebies in this quest. They had to put in the work in 30 minute increments day after day to build and barter and buy their way to a stable country. Through starvation, revolution, and war--they had kept fighting their way through progress. And now much of it was burning down.
How could I enjoy such commotion? Well...I'll tell you how.
It was seeing intensely passionate arguments amongst friends--that were somehow still filled with logic, strategy, courage, and yes, even kindness. It was participating in what I would categorize as the best Socractic discussions we have ever had. It was learning about moments of sincere coaching and consoling. It was watching an eagle's face as the realizations dawned on them of what war and freedom are really about. It was seeing compromising-prone eagles hold their ground and stubborn eagles compromise. It was hearing the debates between opponents being articulated light-years beyond their age. It was decision-making problem-solving at its finest. It was seeing eagles tested to their limits, figuratively (or literally in a few cases) forced into a corner where they had to know for certain, without a doubt, what they believe in, and then marching on to meet the challenges head on.
In other words, it was seeing the reasons we all love this model so much play out in ways that I could have scarcely imagined when I started the school. It was active, engaging, challenging, real-world, preparation-for-your-mission-in-life, Calling-Composing work. Which is the Hero's Journey.
-- Lance Stewart
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Hi, I'm Lance Stewart.
I'm the founder and Head of School at Aim Academy.
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